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  • Yasmina Iro

Hardcore World Building Questionnaire

From the amazing Clevergirlhelps on Tumblr, here's a Questionnaire for the only the most Hardcore of Worldbuilders! I love this Questionnaire and I used it to help me create the world of A'sthy. If you use the questionnaire, send me your result! I'd love to experience your worlds as well!


Religion

  • What - if any - deities are there?

  • What do they do?

  • Is there an important manuscript?

  • How did the world begin?

  • What - if anything - happens after death?

  • What - if anything - will end the world?

  • Are there holidays?

  • How do people worship? Where do they do it?

  • Are there different sects?

  • How do they feel about atheists? Anyone of a different religion?

  • Are there any superstitions or pagan rites existing side-by-side with this religion?

  • How does being a nonbeliever affect someone’s life, if at all? How are nonbelievers treated by the religious group?

  • Why do nonbelievers not follow the religion? Other religions?

  • What is religious art like?

  • How important is this religion to the culture as a whole?

  • What are the guiding principles?

  • Are there any holy sites? Why are they holy? Are worshipers obligated to go to one or more of these places in their life?


Warfare

  • What is the definition of war?

  • Who are the soldiers? The generals? Who is the supreme commander?

  • Are there ranks?

  • Do they have laws governing warfare?

  • Is it honorable to kill? If so, why?

  • Who is their greatest rival? Why?

  • What is their strongest branch (air, sea, land)? Why?

  • Does conventional strategy call for a direct attack or guerrilla warfare?

  • Are there any forced conscription laws (military obligations, drafts, etc.)? How does the public feel about this?

  • What gender is most involved in warfare?

  • Is there an army even in peacetime (a standing army) or are soldiers only called on an as-needed basis?

  • How are the opposition’s civilian casualties treated? Friendly fire?

  • Can the military seize or occupy private property without an excuse?

  • How are veterans treated?


Gender Roles

  • How many genders are there?

  • What is considered beautiful in each gender?

  • What is considered ugly in each gender?

  • Is one gender more important than another? Why?


Talkin’ Bout Love

  • What constitutes love?

  • Is there a taboo on nudity?

  • Is the virginity of any gender important? Why or why not?

  • How is sex viewed? Is it different for genders? Why?

  • Are there contraceptives? How are they seen?

  • Is abortion legal? Why or why not?

  • Is homosexuality a sin? Pedophilia? Bestiality?

  • How are orgies viewed?

  • Which is more important: physical beauty or mental compatibility?


Family

  • What kinds of romantic bonds exist between people?

  • How much input do outside sources like family, tradition, religion, or politics have on these bonds?

  • Is there a process that leads to the cementing of these bonds?

  • To what degree is religion involved in these bonds (if at all)?

  • Who rules the family? Why?

  • What does the typical family group look like?

  • Where do people like to live?

  • Who or what people have primary responsibility of the children?

  • How do they raise their children?

  • What is the average age of the parents on the birth of their first child?

  • Do most people have children because they are obligated to (increasing population, providing heirs), because they want to, or a mixture of both?

  • Who does the household chores?

  • Who is the biggest wage earner?

  • Who cooks?

  • What is the ideal family?

  • What is the ideal house?

  • When do the children move out?

  • Is it taboo to remarry?

  • Is divorce legal?

  • Is there a taboo on having children out of wedlock?

  • What role do the grandparents have? The aunts and uncles?

  • Is marrying your sibling legal? Your cousin? Your second cousin?

  • Is it acceptable to put one’s children up for adoption?


Manners

  • The table?

  • The streets?

  • Talking to or dealing with a superior?

  • Talking to or dealing with an inferior?

  • Talking to or dealing with another gender?


The Arts

  • What artwork is there?

  • What art is most popular?

  • Is there a guild or other organization for that?

  • Who patronizes the arts the most?

  • Does one gender monopolize the arts?

  • What music genres are there?

  • Which one is the most popular?

  • What are the instruments?

  • Are there songs of immense cultural or historic value?

  • Who writes the songs?

  • Has the printing press been invented? If so, who controls it?

  • What is the most popular genre?

  • Are there famous books? Famous authors?

  • Is there poetry? What kinds?

  • Who writes?

  • Is there fiction and nonfiction?

  • What sort of performing arts exist?

  • Who – if anyone – goes to displays of the performing arts?

  • Where are the performing arts done?

  • Are any types of artist held in especially high esteem?

  • Are there special schools for artists?


Skool is Kewl

  • How literate is the population?

  • How mathematically adept is the population?

  • Where do they learn their skills?

  • Are there specialty schools for certain occupations?

  • How often/for how long does the population attend school, if at all?

  • Does religion play any part in education?


Language

  • What is the official language? Where does it come from?

  • Are there other languages or dialects coexisting with the official language? Who speaks them?

  • Has a large organization tried to stamp out an existing language? Why?

  • What do people name their children after?

  • What are the biggest insults? Why?

  • Are there any idioms?

  • Does this culture use parts other than their mouths to speak? To convey an idea?


Economy

  • Is it a command, market, or mixed economy?

  • Who controls the economy?

  • What role does the government play in the economy?

  • What economic classes exist?

  • How much attention does the average person pay to the economy?

  • Who is the richest person in the world?

  • What is the most valuable asset (jewels, gold, land, etc.) someone can have?

  • Are there stocks?

  • Are there joint ventures? Corporations?

  • Do economic groups have any say in government?

  • Where do people store their money? In banks? If so, how reliable are they?

  • Can you take out loans?

  • What groups – if any – impose taxes? What taxes? On what groups? For what reasons? On what percent of someone’s earnings/purchase/etc.?

  • Is there a universal currency? If so, what are the coins/paper pieces/etc. and their denominations?

  • What are the coins/paper pieces/etc. made of? What do they look like?

  • Are there laws against counterfeit coins? What are they? How common are counterfeits?

  • How much money does the average person have? How much do they carry around with them?

  • How rampant is inflation?

  • What happens when someone goes into debt?

  • What happens when someone close to you (spouse, child, parent, best friend, aunt) goes into debt? Does that affect you?

  • What must they import?

  • Where do they import it from?

  • How does that affect their relationship with the place these imports come from?

  • What do they export?

  • Where are the exports made/grown/gathered?

  • What is the most valuable export?

  • What is the best or most reputable job to have? Why?

  • What is the worst or least reputable job to have? Why?

  • Are people mostly self-sufficient or do they rely on a larger economy?

  • What is international trade like? Who controls it?

  • Is the government in any trade agreements with other places?

  • What is the black market like? What is on it?


Politics

  • What form of government is there?

  • How long has this government been in place?

  • Are there factions or political parties? Which are the largest?

  • What would unseat the ruling person/group/party?

  • Does the government have a flag and/or seal and/or national animal and/or other form of identification?

  • Is there a codified set of governance laws?

  • How much can citizens participate in their government? Does it depend on age, gender, beliefs, race, or ability?

  • If a democratic government, how often are the elections? Who votes?

  • What sort of monetary assets does the government control?

  • Where is the capital? Why?

  • What building(s) house the government? Does it/they carry historic or cultural value?

  • What form of government came before this one? How did they fall?

  • What are their international relations like? Who is their greatest ally? Their greatest enemy?

  • Is the government a part of a larger organization (such as United Nations, the European Union, etc.)?

  • Do people take pride in their government?

  • What role – if any – does religion play in the government?

  • Are government officials primarily one demographic? Why?

  • Who founded this government? What were their values?

  • How does the government treat the impoverished? The middle class? The wealthy? Why?

  • Is there a hierarchy in government (for example, town < county < central government)? How are the governments of towns different from county, city, or official governments?

  • What powers are exclusive to town government? To the government of intermediate power? To the official government?


Judicial System

  • What is the biggest crime someone can commit?

  • What are some other terrible crimes?

  • Is the judicial system weighed towards a certain group? Why? In what situations?

  • How are criminals apprehended?

  • How is guilt determined?

  • How are judges appointed?

  • Who alters the law?

  • Who enforces the law?

  • Do people try to uphold the law?

  • Is the average person well informed to their rights under the law?

  • How are minors treated under the law? The weaker gender?

  • Who pays for the trial?

  • Is there a judge in every town or does the judge have a circuit of towns they travel through?

  • Does religion weigh in on issues, if at all?

  • Can someone sue?

  • Is there a hierarchy of courts?

  • Is there a jail? Who maintains it/pays for it?

  • How is serving time seen in the society?

  • Is there a death sentence?

  • How are people executed? Is it a public event?

  • Is there any organized crime? If so, why? Who participates?

  • Can citizens change the law? If so, how?


People

  • What is the main ethnic group? Other sizeable ethnic groups?

  • Are there any ethnic stereotypes?

  • How often do people bathe?

  • How are the physically disabled seen? The mentally disabled?

  • Describe a day in the life of a typical person

  • How much is someone’s solemn promise worth?

  • Are there any common mannerisms?

  • How do people feel about accepting charity?

  • How do people feel about giving charity?

  • How much to people gossip?

  • What does the fashion look like? Does it vary based on occupation or income level?

  • Are there laws governing what people can and cannot wear?

  • Are there any rules of hospitality?

  • What is the percentage of people living in the countryside? In the city?

  • What do the country people think of city dwellers?

  • What do city dwellers think of the country people?

  • How to people feel about strangers?

  • Do people prefer close-knit communities or a constantly changing scene?

  • Who (religious group, gender, occupation, race, etc.) constitutes the highest class?

  • Who constitutes the middle class?

  • Who constitutes the lower class?

  • What do buildings look like?

  • Do they form cities or any other large gatherings?

  • Are there any favorite pastimes? If so, what are they?

  • What role do sports play? Are they war games or strictly for entertainment?

  • What are the three most popular sports? Do they have teams or leagues?

  • Do people keep pets? If so, what are the most popular?

  • How do people get around?

  • How up to date are people on recent events?

  • Should problems be resolved quietly or as publicly as possible?

  • How do people feel about drugs? Drunkenness?

  • Is body art popular? Piercings? Plastic surgery?

  • How do they feel about their environment?

  • Is there some form of news media?

  • What is the media like?


Food

  • How many meals do they eat a day?

  • Who do they eat meals with?

  • What is the typical diet?

  • Are there any foods unique to this culture?

  • What is fine dining?

  • What is the equivalent of pub grub?

  • Is the water safe to drink?

  • Do people make their own food or buy it?


History

  • Who is a hero to these people? Why?

  • What other nations, religions, ethnic groups, etc. influenced the culture into the shape it is in today?

  • How did this group come into being? Was there an event that cohered them or was it more gradual?

  • How long has this group existed?

  • What came before the group/nation/realm? Was it a different group, chaos, or nothing?

  • Important Dates

  • How important – if at all – are birthdays? How are they celebrated?

  • Are there any secular holidays? Why are they holidays? How are they celebrated?

  • Are anniversaries celebrated? Which ones?

  • What is the most important day all year?

  • What does the calendar look like?

  • How do they measure time?

  • What is a long time to this culture?

  • What is a short time to this culture?


Where do you go to …?

  • Vacation?

  • Buy black market items?

  • Find a job?

  • Get a drink?

  • Lodge a complaint about the government?

  • Have fun?

  • Send a message?


Technology

  • Are they more or less advanced than the technology of present day?

  • Why are they more or less advanced?

  • Who makes the most technological breakthroughs?

  • Is technological development speeding up or slowing down?

  • How do people feel about technology?

  • What are the top five most important pieces of technology? Why?

  • (If culture is sufficiently advanced)

  • How do they feel about robots?

  • Are robots self-aware?

  • Are there cyborgs?

  • What rights do self-aware robots and cyborgs have that humans do not? 

  • What rights are denied to self-aware robots and cyborgs, but not to humans?


In Sickness and Death

  • Are there institutions to care for the sick? Who runs them?

  • What is the most common illness in the world?

  • What is the most deadly illness in the world?

  • How common is sickness?

  • Is gangrene still a problem?

  • Has penicillin been discovered? Opiates?

  • How are the sick treated?

  • What is the stance on mental illness?

  • What is the treatment – if any – for mental illness?

  • How long does the average person live?

  • What is the childhood mortality rate?

  • What is the biggest killer?

  • How do they feel about suicide? Is it forbidden, legal, or legal only in certain situations? Why?

  • When someone dies, who receives their money or belongings?

  • How is the body prepared after death?

  • What are funerals like?




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